The federal government will be awarding grants to organizations to implement innovative ideas to deliver better health and improved care at lower costs (referred to as “the triple aim”) to people enrolled in government-funded health programs.  In Minnesota, 39 applications for these “Health Care Innovation Challenge” grants were submitted.  The applications addressed a wide variety of issues, populations and structural health care delivery arrangements (I was fortunate to assist Stratis Health in preparing an application to pilot a Rural Accountable Care Community model).

The University of Minnesota Clinical and Translational Science Institute brought together the applicants and others to brainstorm ideas to improve health care in Minnesota (sooner than later), regardless of which applications are chosen.  It was a great idea and well-executed.

About 20 topics were suggested by participants and people split into groups to discuss areas they were most interested in.  I participated in the groups that were tackling the topics of 1) expanding the use of mindfulness/meditation and yoga and 2) better serving the needs of the growing aging population.

Most of the people who attended the session on mindfulness/meditation/yoga were passionate, both personally and professionally, about the health benefits of these practices (as am I – see my July 2011 post on yoga and domestic violence).  One of the key areas of agreement was that bringing these practices to the schools could have great impact as kids are open to new things and could develop lifelong habits resulting in healthier minds, bodies and spirits.  Some of the challenges we identified are the perception that these practices are “out there” or associated with “other” religions, the need for more evidence-based research and/or better education about outcomes and people’s desire for a quick fix rather than a long-term commitment to wellness.

The session on aging showed how complex and huge this area is.  There is so much that could be done and insufficient resources to do them.  Some key insights were the need for creativity, interdisciplinary approaches and opportunities to use technology to provide services and make human connections.

The commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health wrapped up with some excellent remarks, highlighting common themes – the importance of community in approaching problems and crafting solutions and the need to take the long view. This meeting was a great first step.   More information about the event can be found at the CTSI website.

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